Welcome to day one of the new Matter News.
Since launching four years ago, Matter has invested time and energy into lengthy investigative features centered on policing and development, maintaining a sporadic, “magazine-style” publishing pace and supplementing coverage with livestreams, videos and data visualizations – a punishing workload for a small, nonprofit newsroom staffed in part by volunteers. As a result, stories have generally posted to the website infrequently, making it more challenging to grow both readership and the membership base essential to creating a sustainable news organization.
Moving forward, policing and development will continue to factor in Matter’s coverage, existing as subsections under a new “Community” tab, which will allow us to explore a wider range of issues important to Columbus residents, in particular those too often left out of the conversation.
In addition, we’ll be expanding into cultural coverage, with regular features centered on the artists, musicians and writers who live and work in Columbus. Today, for instance, you can read a feature on poet, author and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib, who will be speaking at the Columbus Museum of Art tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 1).
We are also introducing a new “Voices” section, which will be home to a recurring series of columnists, including Jack Shuler, the director of journalism at Denison University and author of This Is Ohio: The Overdose Crisis and the Front Lines of a New America, who will contribute a monthly column on the ongoing opioid crisis. This in addition to a monthly LGBTQ+ column from local poet Abigail Goodhart and a civically and culturally engaged column courtesy writer Taylor Dorrell.
Matter's editorial refresh coincides with the November kick-start of the 2022 NewsMatch campaign, which runs through the end of the year and will allow us to receive up to $15,000 in matching grant money to fund the types of stories we see lacking in the city.
So, while Matter will never institute a paywall, if you have the means to sign up as a monthly donor, it will go a long way toward helping us build something sustainable. We will also continue to seek out larger grants, business donations and sponsorship opportunities.
Obviously, the news business continues to exist in a period of uncertainty, with corporate cuts forcing many from the profession and leaving increased gaps in community coverage. This includes Gannett’s decision this year to shutter Columbus Alive, a publication I worked nearly a decade for, the last six as editor.
While not without its own challenges, the community-supported nonprofit model feels like one with potential to not just survive, but to thrive. At even 1,000 monthly donors, the organization becomes sustainable. At 2,000, expanding coverage and adding staff could quickly become reality. The potential is honestly exciting.
With any fundraising campaign, I think it’s important to show your work, so we will continue to roll out regular features throughout the next two months, with plans to shift to a daily publishing schedule at the start of 2023. (In the coming weeks, we will also publish a handful of existing, longer-in-the-works features courtesy Matter News co-founder and outgoing editor Jaelynn Grisso.)
Keep checking back over the coming days, weeks and months to see what we have in store for you. And thanks for reading. I can’t wait to get to work.